I’ve been waiting for this since I was nine years old.

My dad was born in a tiny town called Ravenscroft, Tenn. When he was very young, his family moved to Panama, Ill., which is 50 or 60 miles northeast of St. Louis.

He was a bit of a baseball fan and grew up liking the St. Louis Cardinals. So did I.

So in 1967, when I was nine years old, the NHL expanded by six teams and the St. Louis Blues were born. Since I already was a Cardinals fan, I became a Blues fan.

At the outset, it was amazing to be a kid who was a Blues fan because they were such a great team.

They went to the Stanley Cup finals during their first three seasons. Unfortunately, they lost all three times. Not only did they lose all three times, they were swept all three times by Original Six teams – the Montreal Canadiens in 1968 and 1969 and the Bruins in 1970. (Hockey fans will remember the iconic photo of Bobby Orr flying through the air scoring the winning goal in overtime.)

I remember being disappointed by all this, but I also remember thinking, “Oh, well. There’s always next year.”

Well, until Wednesday night, I’d been saying that for 49 years.

The Blues never made it back to the finals again – until this year.

Finally, this was the “next year.” And what a next year. The win over the Bruins Wednesday night in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals was sweet revenge for the Blues’ last Stanley Cup appearance in 1970.

(I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to my wife, Mary, for leaping off the couch and screaming at the television during the game Wednesday night and throughout the playoffs. I’m sure it’s not a very pleasant atmosphere in our living room when I’m watching hockey.)

The Blues this season ended the longest Stanley Cup drought in NHL history – 52 years.

For the first time in NHL history, a team in last place in the league in January went on to win the Stanley Cup.

The story lines go on and on with the Blues this year.

• The signing of Tyler Bozak and David Perron in July that was supposed to make the Blues a contender and the ensuing futility in the first half of the season.

• Patrick Maroon taking a one-year deal far below his expected salary to be near his family.

• The acquisition of Ryan O’Reilly from Buffalo. O’Reilly said he “had lost his love of the game.” The Sabres, questioning his mental toughness, traded him to the Blues. All he did  was become the Blues leading scorer and win the Conn Smythe trophy as the Stanley Cup MVP. He set a Blues record with 23 points in the post season, surpassing legend Brett Hull. And the Blues revealed after the big win O’Reilly had been playing with cracked ribs since the opening series against the Winnipeg Jets.

• Coach Mike Yeo being fired and Craig Berube being named “interim” head coach in November.

• Zach Sanford and Robert Bortuzzo coming to blows in practice in December after an ugly 6-1 loss at home to Vancouver.

• Laila Anderson, the 11-year-old battling a rare disease who became an inspiration for the entire team.

But my favorite story is Blues goalie Jordan Binnington.

When I was a kid a family moved in next door from the Detroit area. They had three boys around my age and they all loved to play hockey.

We played a ton of hockey on the Myers Lake. I felt like I could have played high school hockey, but, of course, Plymouth had no hockey team.

I’ve tried to keep playing. I was in a league in Fort Wayne for a while and play pond hockey each winter. Right now, I play goalie in a beer league at the Ice Box in South Bend.

So I know a little bit about such things and I can say with confidence that Binnington’s performance in Game 7 Wednesday night was the most spectacular game of goal tending I have ever witnessed.

In the first period, the Bruins owned the Blues. The ice was tilted the Bruins’ way. The Blues were outhit and outshot. The Bruins were faster. The Bruins were more dynamic. The Bruins were better on offense. The Bruins were dominant. The Bruins had Grade A chance after Grade A chance. Each time, Binnington was up to the task, making incredible saves. Point blank saves. Clutch saves.

He easily could have given up 3 goals in that first period but he shut out the Bruins – including during the game’s only power play.

The end result was that the Blues, despite being outplayed, were up 2-0 at the first intermission on just 4 shots. That had to be incredibly frustrating for the Bruins. After that, the Blues were able to smother the Bruins’ offense and added a couple of goals along the way.

A goal with 2 minutes left by the Bruins ruined Binnington’s shutout, but the deal was sealed – a 4-1 Game 7 win for the Blues.

But here’s the thing. He’s a rookie.

At the beginning of the season, Binnington was a forth-string goalie for the Blues. He’s 25 years old. He played major junior hockey for the Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario Hockey League. Then he was picked 88th overall in the third round by the Blues in 2011 – eight years ago.

He signed an entry level contract with the Blues in 2012. He only played one AHL game in 2011-2012. He returned to Owen Sound in for the 2012-2013 season. In 2014, he was playing for the Kalamazoo Wings in the ECHL. He got called up after an injury to Blues goalie Brian Elliott. In his first NHL game he lost 4-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes and he went back to the minors.

In 2016, he signed a two-way contract with the Blues. But since the Blues didn’t have an AHL affiliate he was loaned to the Providence Bruins. Ironically, that’s the Boston Bruins AHL affiliate so he was playing with some of the guys he shut down in Game 7. In July of last year, he signed a one-year contract with the Blues. By then, the Blues had an  affiliate – the San Antonio Rampage. He was sent there. He was called up to the Blues in December. He played his first game Jan 7, when he shut out the Philadelphia Flyers.

Since then, he’s been playing like a hall of famer.

He broke the record for most wins in a playoff year by a rookie goalie. He became the NHL’s all-time leading rookie goalie for playoff appearances. He has the most minutes played by a rookie goalie in a single playoff year. He tied the record for most wins following a playoff loss. His name is etched beside names like Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek and he’s only played 57 NHL games.

When the rookie took over, the Blues were dead last in the NHL.

Now they’re Stanley Cup champs.

There has never been a story like this.

Go Blues!